Let’s go to the movies – Friday 8 – 14 April 2011

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Movies change on Wednesday next week, the start of the three days of terror known as Songkran.  Hey, here’s an idea! Why don’t you spend those three days in a movie theater?  Your chances of getting doused there are minimal.

Now playing in Pattaya

King Naresuan Part III: Naval Battle: Thai, Drama/ War – The third chapter (of at least four chapters) of the King Naresuan epic, continuing the story of Thai’s chivalric king and warrior in the Ayudhya era who fought against the invasion of Burmese troops that aimed to overpower the Ayudhya Kingdom.  The filming of the story of King Naresuan began in 2002 and is still continuing on the huge set built in Kanchanaburi (and which is open to the public as a sort of theme park).  Nearly the whole army garrison in Kanchanaburi is in the movie as extras, plus hundreds of elephants, horses, and other animals.  Sort of a 10-year public works project for the province.

For sure the film is spectacular, and the production aspects are superbly rendered: the costumes, the sets, the set decoration.  All of that shows a lot of research in the design, and much skill and craftsmanship in execution.  If the emotions and plot seem wooden, remember the difficulty in creating a drama that offends absolutely no one (with the single exception of the Burmese; that’s allowed.).  Because of this impossible task, it’s no wonder The Bangkok Post’s critic, Kong Rithdee, labeled the film “pedestrian.”

Hop: US, Animation/ Comedy/ Family/ Fantasy – Blending state-of-the-art animation with live action, it tells the comic tale of an average semi-lazy guy (James Marsden) who accidentally injures the Easter Bunny’s teen-aged son (voiced by Russell Brand) and must take him in as he recovers.  As he struggles with the world’s worst houseguest, “both will learn what it takes to finally grow up” – or so it says here.  Actually, looks like fun.  Early reviews: mixed or average.  Not at Big C.

Sucker Punch: US/ Canada, Action/ Fantasy/ Thriller – The most imaginative film since Inception.  A young girl (Baby Doll) is institutionalized – locked away in a mental asylum by her wicked stepfather – where she will undergo a lobotomy in five days time.  It’s an adolescent boys’ sex fantasy on top of an ugly story of a life so bad it drives the heroine into psychosis.  In this case, however, it’s a shared psychosis with four other girls, and the “quests” they have in the psychotic world have repercussions in their real lives.  It would be the easiest thing in the world to make fun of Sucker Punch, and I daresay it’s doomed to be ridiculed for years to come, and yet have an influence on future films that will surprise everyone.  I loved it.  It’s bizarre, but unique and wonderful – a gritty, violent, fantasy-based, primarily female-driven story.  Generally unfavorable reviews.  In English everywhere, and Big C has a Thai-dubbed version as well.

Battle: Los Angeles / World Invasion: Battle LA: (Scheduled) US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – This film is apparently inspired by the real life incident known as the Battle of Los Angeles, during World War II.  On the night of 24-25 February 1942, unidentified aircraft were allegedly spotted in the airspace above Los Angeles.  Suspecting it to be the Japanese, a blackout of the city was ordered and over 1,440 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition was fired.  Upon finding no evidence of the existence of any enemy aircraft, the incident was declared to be a “false alarm.”  The event has since been chalked up to as being a result of “war nerves,” likely triggered by a lost weather balloon.  But here, of course, the attack is caused by aliens, and I guess you could say the movie is designed to show how Marines would likely handle an attack from extra-terrestrials.

Marines from Camp Pendleton helped train the actors for their roles, educating them in the Marine way of doing things.  A number of actual Marines also appear as extras in the film, and as an example of how tough the training was, note that Aaron Eckhart, playing a Marine staff sergeant, broke his arm during the filming.  So it may be overlong and not very original, but it is exciting.  Generally unfavorable reviews.

Source Code: (Scheduled) US/ France, Action/ Mystery/ Romance/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – An action thriller centered on a soldier (Jake Gyllenhaal) who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.  Generally favorable reviews.

Vanishing on 7th Street: US,  Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – An apocalyptic thriller/ horror about a group of people who must avoid darkness to stay alive.  The story follows a mysterious, seemingly global blackout that causes countless populations to simply vanish, leaving only their clothes and possessions behind.  A small handful of survivors band together in a dimly-lit tavern on 7th Street, struggling to combat the apocalyptic horror.  Long sections build a nice sense of dread and mystery.  With Hayden Christensen and John Leguizamo.  Rated R in the US for language.  Mixed or average reviews.  Not at Big C.

Beastly: US, Drama/ Fantasy/ Romance – A modern-day take on the “Beauty and the Beast” tale where a New York teen is transformed into a hideous monster in order to find true love.  Except that he’s not hideous at all.  The ugliness is so cool as to be most attractive, losing the point of the whole exercise.  Starring Alex Pettyfer, late of I Am Number Four, as the Robert Pattinson-look-similar (to appeal to the young girls again who like the Twilight series).  Widely divergent opinions, so “mixed or average” reviews with the emphasis on “mixed.” At Pattaya Beach only.

SuckSeed: Thai, Comedy/ Musical – Tells the story of teenage boys who form a rock band called SuckSeed just to impress the girls.  But things get complicated when a girl joins the group.  A definite hit.  Gone from Major.

Gnomeo and Juliet 3D: (Shown in digital 3D) UK/ US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Fantasy/ Romance – A version of Shakespeare’s play, set in the world of warring indoor and outdoor gnomes. Garden gnomes Gnomeo (voice of James McAvoy) and Juliet (voice of Emily Blunt) have as many obstacles to overcome as their quasi namesakes when they are caught up in a feud between neighbors.  Caution: has scenes of plastic pink flamingos and lawnmower races.  Mixed or average reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only.

The Adjustment Bureau: US, Romance/ Thriller/ Sci-Fi – An entertaining and fantastical puzzle of a thriller.  On the brink of winning a seat in the US Senate, an ambitious politician (Matt Damon) meets a beautiful contemporary ballet dancer (Emily Blunt) – a woman like none he’s ever known.  But just as he realizes he’s falling for her, mysterious men conspire to keep the two apart.  He learns he is up against the agents of Fate itself – the men of The Adjustment Bureau – who will do everything in their considerable power to prevent the two from being together.  He must either let her go and accept a predetermined path, or risk everything to defy Fate and be with her.  Mixed or average reviews.  At Major only.

Hug Na Sarakam: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Indie filmmaker Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, director of the banned social drama Insects in the Backyard, goes commercial with her latest effort.  It’s a sunny comedy and countryside ode about the love lives of youngsters in Maha Sarakham, the predominantly rural province in Isaan, engaging in romantic shenanigans that have nothing to do with Isaan’s usual sorry image of pitiable farmers.  In Thai only, and at Big C only.

Just Go with It: US, Comedy/ Romance – They’re still saying to just go with it and I’m still saying don’t even think of it.  A RomCom with little rom and even less com.  Adam Sandler continues his fascination with kids, poop, and mammary glands. Generally unfavorable reviews.  At Pattaya Beach only.